Mysteries is a classic of European literature, one of the seminal novels of the twentieth century. It is the story of Johan Nagel, a strange young man who arrives to spend a summer in a small Norwegian coastal town. His presence acts as a catalyst for the hidden impulses, concealed thoughts and darker instincts of the local people. Cursed with the ability to understand the human soul, especially his own, Nagel can foresee, but cannot prevent, his own self-destruction.
Born in 1859, Knut Hamsun’s early works were forceful and polemic. In his later work, he became more compassionate, drawing inspiration from the country people of his native Norway. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920 for Growth of the Soil. He has been recognised as one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century.
“The whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun.”
Isaac Bashevis Singer
“I read these novels with the gently expanding recognition due only to the great writers.”
Doris Lessing, ‘The Independent’
“The most outstanding Norwegian writer since Ibsen.”
‘Times Literary Supplement’
“Hamsun is one of the great writers of this century – his nearest British equivalent being I suspect Thomas Hardy. Hamsun’s novels have the simplicity of total self-possession, of the clearest possible understanding of the human world… a unique beauty of expression.”
“A rare understanding of human nature comes through, expressed in a measured, elegiac and lyrical prose.”
“Hamsun has the qualities that belong to the very great, the completest omniscience about human nature.
“Mysteries is closer to me than any other book I’ve read.”